Pair of journeymen in Vancouver somehow fight their way to U.S. Open spots

Matt Marshall (left) with wife and Travis Howe both earned spots at the 2016 U.S. Open.

Pair of journeymen in Vancouver somehow fight their way to U.S. Open spots

Professional

Pair of journeymen in Vancouver somehow fight their way to U.S. Open spots

VANCOUVER, Wash. – While Oregon hotshot Aaron Wise stole headlines at the Vancouver sectional, a couple of unknown journeymen – Matt Marshall and Travis Howe – proved every bit as interesting, securing the last two spots for the U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Marshall, 31, all but gave up the dream late last year. He took a job as assistant pro at Portland Golf Club and worked the family vineyard over the winter.

“For a little over a month I haven’t really been playing,” said Marshall. “All of a sudden, here I am going to the U.S. Open.”

The 28-year-old Howe grew up in Osceola, Pa., about 200 miles northeast of Oakmont Country Club. He won a state high school championship while playing for his father, Mark, and played college golf at Penn State. It’s fair to say that qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Open is the biggest day of Howe’s career to date.

Impressive given that he arrived in Vancouver at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening with girlfriend Christie Johnson and came to the course on Monday at 6:20 a.m. looking for a yardage book. No luck.

Howe played the first round blind and had it to 5 under through 16 holes before finishing bogey-double bogey to shoot 70. He regrouped on the second 18 and shot 67, holing out with a 9-iron on the 11th hole for his second eagle of the day.

“(My dad) might have cracked open a bottle already,” said Howe of the celebration back home.

Howe bounced around on the mini-tours since graduating from Penn State in 2011 and is playing his first season on the Mackenzie Tour. He once played the Pennsylvania State Open at Oakmont, also blind, and finished in the top 10. Howe Monday-qualified for the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship for his lone PGA Tour start.

“I got taste of the scene,” said Howe, “but the U.S. Open is a whole different animal.”

Marshall turned pro in 2009 and spent seven years playing professional golf in Canada. He got married last August to Danielle and went into semi-retirement after Q-School.

Marshall’s brothers, Sean Davis and Ryan Marshall, founded Marshall Davis Wines in 2009 on 25 acres of family land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Suffice it to say a few bottles will be opened after Marshall defeated Austin Connelly with a par on the third playoff hole. Connelly had previously gone 38 holes without posting a bogey, a feat that left Marshall scratching his head.

While Danielle carried the bag for 39 holes in sunny Vancouver, Marshall’s father, Bob, might take over at Oakmont. Bob, who serves as director of golf at CordeValle, site of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open in California’s wine country, will soon head east.

“It’s so crazy that my golf career was coming to an end,” said Marshall. “Funny how life works out.”

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